Mucke, Knochen und Pieps!

June 22nd, 2012 § Comments Off on Mucke, Knochen und Pieps! § permalink

I was completely stunned yesterday when my mailperson showed up carrying a huge box with my name on it. I had no idea what it could be or where it was from.

After paying the $18.50 COD, I threw the box on the couch, then saw the Taschenbuch logo on the side and realized what it was: my author copies of the German translation of The Odds Get Even. I’d completely forgotten about it.

I opened the box and was gobsmacked to discover that the book is a hardcover. I stood there, staring at it in wonder for several minutes before I even picked it up.

I turned the book in my hands. What a beautiful thing it is. Then I opened it and found the illustrations: bona fide flip animation comics. I was beside myself with glee! So many years I’ve dreamed of having such a thing in one of my novels, and here it was, right in my hands – and I didn’t even have to ask.

And better still, when I looked at the back cover, there is an illustration of The Fart King ripping a big one. I couldn’t believe it! How was this possible??

When I wrote the story all those years ago, my editor was uncomfortable with the name “Fart King.” She thought kids would find it offensive. I tried to convince her otherwise but to no avail. So we came to a compromise: I could call Larry Harry the Fart King three or four times, then I had to find something else to call him. Hmmmm.

To meet these parameters, I devised a convoluted storyline to allow the kids to change “Fart King” to “Prisoner 95.” Those of you who have read the book know what I’m talking about here.

After all this, I get the German version, and the farts are front row center. The Germans get the humour. What fun!

Staring at this book, (I have a copy beside me on my desk), I can honestly say it is the culmination of a lifelong dream: that a publisher would take my work, advance me adequately, and realize the finished product with such faith, such passion and pride, that I myself couldn’t have done a better job.

My new hope is that the children of Germany enjoy this story and that it makes its way into the hands of many. And I hope the faith that DTV has in this book returns to them ten-fold. Now, all I have to do is figure out how to type an umlaut in my blogs!

Welcome to the world, Mucke, Knochen und Pieps!

Been so long…

April 20th, 2012 § Comments Off on Been so long… § permalink

It’s been far too long since I posted last, Dear Reader. But I can assure you I’ve been busy. I’m not procrastinating. No. I’ve had my nose so close to the grind I didn’t realize how swiftly time was passing. And here we are.

One of the things that kept me cloistered in my office is my new novel. Having missed two years of deadlines I thought I’d better pony up. So I chained myself to my desk for the last six months and ground out a readable draft.

The truth is, it wasn’t the missed deadlines that set me to purpose. It’s the fact that my editor at Random House is soon to depart on maternity leave. The idea of waiting six to twelve months for the book to be read was unthinkable.

As my mother used to say, “an imminent hanging focuses the mind.” So I harnessed my best horses to this book-draft wagon and set to driving. I am proud to say the draft is in my editor’s hands as I write this.

But that’s not all that occupied me. There were taxes and weddings and birthdays and designing an album cover for a new band, and all the things that crop up in spring. And did I mention my new-new writing project…?

Far and away

December 7th, 2011 § Comments Off on Far and away § permalink

At the cabin it’s hard to be angry or overly concerned about the things that occupy us in the city. The sound of coyotes yipping at the stars, or owls hooting through the forest at night is just about all we need to feel satisfied. That, and water for our hot tub. We don’t have a well so water is always on our minds.

We have a large pond system on our land but we leave that to the frogs and ducks in the summer and the lemon-sized tadpoles in the winter. It’s silty and deliciously dark, but not suitable for bathing. Instead, we go to the lake down the road and rustle water in big blue jugs. It takes about four trips to secure enough water to fill the hot tub. Brian braves the ice and freezing water temperature while I ferry jugs back and forth in the car. It’s not an easy task but so worth the effort. Especially at night when the stars and moon grace us with a show. Sometimes it’s hard to see through the steam off the water in the tub, or find your glass of wine in the dark, but we do our best. 

What have I been up to…?

July 24th, 2011 § Comments Off on What have I been up to…? § permalink

I know, dear reader, I have been horribly absent this summer. It’s just that there’s so much going on. But I won’t bore you with excuses. I’ll just cut to the chase. I’ve been doing things other than writing.

What? Yes. Many things. Like building a website for my new writing project which I can’t tell you about right now. (How’s that for suspense?) And musing over my work in progress. And thinking about the comic strip I want to write. And building a shed (two walls currently stand). And planning some wonderful confection for my friend Cathy’s wedding in September. And gardening. Oh, the gardening.

Needless to say, none of this is moving me closer to meeting my current deadline. I just have to put all these things aside and keep my nose to the proverbial grind until that first draft is done. Because I’m running out of time, dear reader. That much is evident.

The truth is, this WIP of mine is tricksy and petulant. It’s mad at me, and as a result, refuses to talk. Really, it’s just responding to my own ability for distraction. It is summer, after all.

But again, no excuses. I WILL, I MUST tend to my WIP. Because saying it makes it so, no? 🙂

Something lost, something found

June 14th, 2011 § Comments Off on Something lost, something found § permalink

After much deliberation, I decided to create another “official” author page on facebook after I accidentally erased my old one. It was a shock, having carefully built my page and enjoyed hundreds of “likes” and fan photos. The idea of starting over was disappointing and a little bit daunting.

But here I am: starting another official page. So far, 31 likes. I have a big hill to climb to get back to where I was. 😛

They’re heeeeere!

May 8th, 2011 § Comments Off on They’re heeeeere! § permalink

It’s really real! Against All Odds is in my hands. It’s so beautiful. 🙂
The alien is big and it glows-in-the-dark. The cover is shiny and the book has heft. I love it. 🙂

Against All Odds

April 24th, 2011 § Comments Off on Against All Odds § permalink

I’ve learned that Against All Odds has been chosen as a Girl Guides pick and will be featured in THE magazine. Very exciting. Also, we’re mere days away from actually seeing the book in all its glory. It should be back from the printer soon. *fingers crossed*

Blog…? What blog?

February 22nd, 2011 § Comments Off on Blog…? What blog? § permalink

Yes, dear readers, I am alive. I know many of you have been wondering. But I assure you, I still breathe. Barely. It’s just…I’ve been insanely busy. No, no, not busy…I’ve been asked to participate in a test-flight to Mars…yes, that’s it… Okay, I have no excuse. My real problem is that my blog spot will no longer let me post photos with my blogs. Something to do with a glitch in the system. How can I be expected to get excited about a blog when there are no accompanying visuals? I just can’t. *sniff* Pity me!! Thank you. Okay, so…we just returned from the cabin. I brought my laptop because I was all gung-ho, convinced I could actually get some work done on our weekend away. Who was I kidding? No one. Not even myself. When we arrived at the cabin, I quickly realized I’d left my pen-drive on my desk. Hurray! I mean…Arrggh! Well, there was nothing to be done for it but read all weekend by the fire. I had no choice. I know most of you are fed up with the snow and ice and bitter cold. How could you not be? But believe me when I tell you that a warm cabin, some cognac and a good book can change the way you feel about winter – almost immediately. I felt benevolent as the flakes whirled outside my window. Back in the city. Where am I supposed to park my car?? And the house feels cold compared to the cabin. Find that hard to believe? Do the math: wood is free; gas is not. I have no problem throwing another log on the fire. It’s painless. But don’t let me catch you at the thermostat! You get the picture. So here I sit, blogging at 2 my cold-ish office, no fire to lull me to sleep. I guess I have no choice but to post this and crawl off to bed… G’night. Don’t let the bedbugs bite and all that. I promise to be more prolific with the blogs in the future…yeah… 😉

When life gives you squash, make…pie?

November 19th, 2010 § Comments Off on When life gives you squash, make…pie? § permalink

Shhhhh….don’t tell anyone…butternut squash makes amazing pie – as good, if not better, than pumpkin. That’s right. That squash kicking around in your kitchen has primo pie potential.

How did I come up with the idea to make pie out of squash? Well, my husband loves pie more than any other kind of dessert. He wanted pumpkin, but all I had was butternut squash. Not to be defeated, I baked the squash and went ahead as though baking a pumpkin pie. To my astonishment, the squash pie was phenomenal. Never satisfied with first attempts, I tweaked and adjusted the ingredients to create the best possible recipe. I’m not too shy to say that this recipe is great. In fact, this pie may very well be the best thing you’ve ever tasted – gluten-free or otherwise. Bold statement, I know. But don’t take my word for it. Bake one for yourself. And be sure to share with friends. Now, roll up your sleeves and repurpose that squash!

Superior Squash Pie with short crust (gluten-free)

One medium-sized butternut squash
1 cup of brown sugar
1 package of softened cream cheese
5-6 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tbl arrowroot flour
1/4 tsp salt

*fresh grated nutmeg (to be grated on top of the pie just before baking

Remove the stem of the squash and cut in half, cleaning the seeds from the center with a spoon. Place face down on a parchment-lined sheet and bake at 400 degrees until soft. It’s okay and even desirable if you forget about the squash and it gets a little blackened around the edges – this adds to the flavour! Remove from the oven when done and let cool to the touch then remove the skin.

Place the prepared squash in a food processor and process until smooth. Add the cream cheese and process again until creamy and smooth. Add sugar, pumpkin pie spice, salt and arrowroot flour and process on slow until blended, then medium-high until uniform. Set aside.

Short Crust

1 cup rice flour
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup ground almond flour
1/8 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup of room temperature butter

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Place the dry ingredients in a deep bowl and blend together with a fork. Add the softened butter and cut in with a pastry cutter until the mix is course but uniform. Form into a ball and place on two floured sheets of wax paper overlapped in the middle to create one bigger sheet. Sprinkle some flour over the pastry and roll into an even sheet about 1/4 inch thick. Place pie plate at the edge of the wax paper and carefully lift the pastry with the wax paper and flip it into the pie plate. Remove the wax paper and flute the edge of the crust.

Add filling and smooth it into the crust. Finely grate some fresh nutmeg evenly over the top of the filling. Bake at 325 for 45 min – 1 hour. Pie is done when cracks appear in the filling. Cool on a wire rack, preferably overnight, covering the pie with a clean cotton tea towel. Enjoy plain or with a dollop of whipped cream.

Book Junkies Review of Gravity Brings Me Down

October 11th, 2010 § 2 comments § permalink

Christie and Ashley, aka, The Book Junkies, recently reviewed Gravity. They gave it 5 out of 5. Thanks Christie! Here’s her review:

A couple of weeks ago I attended to Word on the Street Festival in Toronto. At this event I stopped by the Remarkable Reads Tent for the Youth Hour and I am so glad I did because it was there that I discovered Natale Ghent. The reading that Natale did was from Gravity Brings Me Down which is a self proclaimed story about self-discovery. The excerpt that she read was funny and grabbed your attention. It seemed like a good read so I picked up a copy there and then. Little did I know that I was about to get sucked into Sioux Smith’s world and that I would not want to leave.

Gravity Brings Me Down opens on an intense note with the main character, Sioux Smith, standing at the edge of a dam with questions about suicide running through her mind. Suddenly the police arrive willing her to step back from the edge and half the town of Sunnyview is watching. It is here that a confused elderly woman, who Sioux names Miss Marple, gives Sioux an out when she mistakes her for someone named Marie.
Miss Marple, a.k.a. Mabel gives Sioux an out, but instead of fading into the shadows the elderly woman comes front and center the same time Sioux is in this rut. Sioux is plagued by thoughts about the significance of life and about the nature of death.

When you look at Sioux’s life though, you really have to wonder how someone in her situation could become so engulfed in thoughts of death. Her family is a little out of the ordinary, but nothing too wild. Her parents are loving people, and her sister Peggy is okay minus some of her annoying mainstream qualities. What I came to realize though is that our lives often look different from the outside and that sometimes when we are in them we find it difficult to comprehend what is happening. That and, once you get a taste of Sioux’s high school life it is pretty obvious why she contemplates about the endless abyss.

Sioux’s high school is like the breeding ground for insanity. There are the usual cliques that we all know and hate, but they are even better – especially the jocks. Bif for example is this beefy athlete with some unidentified complex. The only character in the book that even remotely compares to the creature that is Bif would be Chocko. As a philosophy teacher Chocko is a pretty cool guy, but his extra-curricular activities make him creepy and psychotic. Then there are Tod and Steve who have an interest in Sioux. Tod is what authorities would call “a stalker” since he follows Sioux all over town on his moped. Steve on the other hand is a bonafide stud. He is also an athlete with a brain which like Sioux says is kind of a “turn on”. With all this insanity you might ask: “How does Sioux get through the school days?” Her best friend Sharon and the black sludge coffee from the Tip.

Despite the number of relationships that are written about in the book, it is the one between Sioux and Mabel that carries the most weight and the one that impacted me the most. These two characters are in two very different points in their lives and yet they manage to form this incredible friendship. Ghent’s description of Mabel’s apartment, and of her life, will break your heart. It will gnaw at that little place inside you that worries about dying alone. While Sioux and Mabel are at opposite ends of the spectrum, there is no denying that they need each other. Sometimes the only thing that they have is each other. For Sioux their relationship is about learning and for Mabel it’s about living, but even then they never take more from the other person than they need. I belive wholeheartedly that it is this relationship between Sioux and Mabel that sets Ghent’s book apart from other stories of self-discovery and puts her into a league of her own.

Gravity Brings Me Down never takes itself too seriously and it is Ghent’s writing style that allows for this. The humour that touches almost every page in the book balances the weight of the heavy issues that are tackled. This book is about many things: life, self-disocovery, and about finding friendship in the most unlikely of places. It is raw, honest, and beautifully written. I highly recommend this book, especially to anyone who has ever lost their way. It will put your life into perspective and will make you smile, even through your tears.


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